Kol Nidrey in the ICU — A night to remember

On Kol Nidrey night after davening, Chazzan Helfgot and I decided to walk to Cornell hospital to visit a young Lubavicher Chossid who was in the hospital. Picture this scene: Intensive Care ward, a young man in his early forties lying in bed connected to so many different life saving machines and the two of us standing by his side singing the songs and melodies of Yom Kippur.

After approximately an hour of singing we proceeded to exit and as we reached the stairs his wife came after us and asked if we could return to the room. We walked back in and this young man’s face was beaming as he turned to us and said: “You sang so many Nigunim, would you please just sing one more.” Before we could ask him what he wanted us to sing he opened the Machzor and pointed to Kol Nidrey. S‎o we began singing in hushed tones the beautiful haunting melody of Kol Nidrey.

As tears were streaming down this young Chossid’s face, we ourselves could not hold back our emotions and feelings. I have never in my life said this Tefila with such intensity and emotion. I looked at Chazzan Helfgot, to the wife who was sitting in the room with us and several the nurses who came in to listen. It was a moment that simply cannot be adequately described in words.

We walked back from the hospital in silence both of us deep in our own thoughts. But just as we parted ways for the night, I told Chazzan Helfgot “You know, we had well over 900 people in shul tonight and each of them I’m sure was touched by the stunning voice and melodies you offered, but consider for a moment what a deep impact we made on just ONE Jewish neshoma fighting for his life and whose family is praying that he merit seeing many more Yom Kippurs.”

Tonight is Hoshana Rabba. It is considered the “closing” of the Yamim Noraim. We each have a chance to offer prayers for our loved ones and for those who are so ill and in desperate need of G-d’s salvation and recovery.

May the Ribbono Shel Olam hear and answer our deepest prayers and wishes.

About the Author
Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky is a world-renowned Cantor, lecturer, teacher, mentor, and event producer. Affectionately known as “Cantor Benny,” he serves as Cantor at the historic Park East Synagogue, located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Born in Liverpool, England, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Talmudic Studies in Manchester Yeshiva and an advanced degree in Music. He has performed for audiences of thousands at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the White House and the United Nations. As a lecturer of music and its application to prayer, Cantor Rogosnitzky routinely studies and practices both traditional and modern liturgy and music. In 2012, he worked with Sony Music on the production and marketing of the historic album and concert series, “Eternal Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul,” a collaboration between world-famous violinist Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot. At Park East Synagogue, where he has served as Cantor since 2009, Cantor Rogosnitzky also leads marketing and community engagement efforts for both the Synagogue and Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School, where he serves as Director. He serves on the board of several charitable organizations and is the co-founder of Cantors World and the founder of Frum Divorce. Cantor Rogosnitzky is married with four children and resides in New York. Follow Cantor Benny:
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